How I Turned Hobby Into A Thriving Crowdsourcing Business. Part 2.
Part 1 here
No matter how big your ‘blog network’ is (most likely you don’t have one at all), sooner or later you have to get publicity from blogs that you don’t control. So this part is going to be about how I got free publicity for PickyDomains.com from other people’s blogs.
If you want other bloggers to write about you, the number one tool is Technorati. It was absolutely indispensible to me when I started promoting PickyDomains.com in 2007. Essentially Technorati tracks only blogs and news sites, it ranks them according to popularity and divides into different a categories. For example, there is a section of over 30,000 blogs and news sites that cover technology, which was a good fit for me. There is also section for small business with 20,000+ blogs, which was also a great fit for our risk-free naming business. Most popular sites are listed first, but more than likely, you won’t get any response from the Top 100 blogs. Whatever your new startup is about, with Technorati you can find a group of blogs and news sites that cover your industry.
The next step is to contact blog owner. Bloggers are bombarded with e-mails daily, so if you send them your press-release, this will only piss them off (I’ll have a section about how I do press-releases with great results). And ‘Hey, you might want to write about my new startup’ won’t work either.
Since I was a total noob, at first I simply explained my situation to bloggers I contacted – that I started a company and had no clue how to market it. However silly this approach might have been, it worked surprisingly well – John Dvorak of Dvorak.org, for instance, was happy to help me out.
Then I changed my approach completely. Instead of ASKING for something, I started OFFERING something for free. I would write a short e-mail that would read along these lines
I really enjoy your blog. I recently started a new company called PickyDomains.com – it’s a crowdsourcing naming service where other people help you name your company, website or product. If you are starting a new project and can’t seem to come up with a perfect domain on your own, let me know and we’ll do work for you 100% free of charge.’
This ‘giveaway’ approach worked very well, even though only a small fraction took me up on my offer (and quite a few bloggers actually paid us instead). Why would you want to give away your product to bloggers? Simple - connections. Bloggers are generally very well connected and not just via their blog. Once they learned that there is such a thing as risk-free naming service where you pay ONLY if you decide to use one of suggested names, domains or slogans, they’d pass this information on whenever the occasion arose (like when their buddy complained that he can’t find good available domain name).
We’ve got quite a few write-ups this way and the word traveled to The San Francisco Chronicle who wrote about PickyDomains in 2007. We still offer free services to bloggers. In fact, if you go to our website, you’ll see Free For Bloggers Section:
PickyDomians.com will work for free with blog owners (as long as your blog is real and has traffic). Simply mention PickyDomains in one of our blog posts and send us a URL of your post. You can take us up on this offer only once.
Because it takes quite a bit of time and effort to contact each individual blogger, I figured I’d save myself some time and effort and advertise the fact that we do free work for bloggers on the front page. I get several publications each month this way.
Another approach with bloggers you might want to consider, if you have a lot of time, is commenting. If you become a regular reader and commenter on a blog, eventually quite a few people will go to your site, if your username is the same as your website URL.
Obviously, you can’t be spamming. And the more insightful your comments are, the more the urge to find out who’s the user who leaves them. I, personally, don’t use this approach because I don’t have enough time, but it’s something to keep in mind.
So far we’ve covered how to promote your startup with your own blog networks and by contacting blogger. I’ve also spent thousands on paid reviews and learned how you can pay only 30 bucks to a blogger who wanted $100 per review – so this will be covered in the next section of How I Turned Hobby Into A Thriving Crowdsourcing Business.
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